Henry K. Sharp publishes book America’s First Factory Town: the Industrial Revolution in Maryland’s Patapsco River Valley

08 Apr 2018 11:03 AM | Christine R Henry (Administrator)

VAF member Henry K. Sharp publishes book on the industrial revolution in Maryland. 

Most architectural historians who have addressed the inception and development of the Industrial Revolution in America trace its beginnings to Samuel Slater‘s 1793 cotton-thread mill, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.  Yet the unsung history of another place, Maryland's Patapsco River Valley, offers an alternate narrative.  The Chesapeake region’s transition from tobacco cultivation to wheat brought about a significant regional transformation in architecture.  Beginning in the mid-eighteenth century, a generation before Slater’s own ground-breaking accomplishment, large-scale production and international marketing of flour propelled Baltimore from a backwater village to a ramifying city.  The most extensive of the merchant milling communities forming an industrial corona around this rapidly urbanizing port was Ellicotts’ Mills, founded by the Quaker Ellicott brothers in 1771.  This book highlights the Ellicotts’ story, and situates their prescient conception of a factory town in historical context.  In so doing, Dr. Sharp offers us a more complete and nuanced understanding of the architecture of America's industrialization.

Henry K. Sharp, America’s First Factory Town: the Industrial Revolution in Maryland’s Patapsco River Valley (Baltimore:  Chesapeake Book Company, 2017).

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